Publishing continues to change and shift and the length and style of books continues to do the same. Writers are not held to one length or one contract anymore. We can publish what’s right for us right here and right now.
Readers have asked me over the years why don’t I write longer. I get reviews and emails saying, man I wish this or that story was longer. So, because I am in this reboot of Lissa Matthews so to speak, I thought I’d answer this question, because I don’t see me changing the length I write too drastically in the near future. It could happen, but until then, here are my …
Time … Writing novella was a conscious choice for me. I wanted to write shorter than full length. It doesn’t take 30 forevers to write a novella. My sweet spot is between 25,000 and 40,000 words. I have plenty that are under 22,000 words and a few that are over 41,000 words. I write where the story takes me. I write what the story in my head is meant to be. I write what is necessary for me to tell through the characters eyes. Not every story is meant to be 50,000, 75,000, or 120,000 words. It doesn’t take you that long to read, either. And everyone, readers and writers, our time is precious and ever more limited and distracted. But don’t take that to mean the story isn’t important, it is. Its very important. Each one is saying something, showing me and you something, pulling us in to a different life for a moment. You can read one of my novellas and escape for a few hours and then get back to your life and the things you need to get accomplished. Time is valuable. There aren’t enough hours in our days. Most of us, even if we had an extra 6 hours would still need more. I love novellas for this reason. I can read a book, get involved, get finished and get back to my day. It allows me a little fantasy in the midst of reality. I’ve been reading a lot of full length books the last few months that take me days or weeks to finish and I’m way behind on my reading goals for the year because of this.
It takes skill … Some do not think this is true, after all, it’s a novella, how hard can it be? Some of us know it is true. And some who don’t write novellas know it’s true, as well. Not every book written has to solve a huge outward problem. Not every book written has to solve any problem at all. It could just be about sex, which is definitely not a bad thing. Nope. But just as writing long, in depth, full length novels take skill, writing novellas takes skill too.
More titles … You get more stories. Presumably. If I do my job. You get more stories. More often. And this is not about quantity over quality. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is that I’m able to finish something quicker and get it edited quicker and into your hands quicker. Several authors do this very successfully … Alexa Riley and Mina Carter. They write quick, hot books and get them out for their readers to devour.
Because I can … Yes. I said it. Because I can. I can write any length I want. As I said at the beginning of the post, with publishing the way it is, authors can write what they want, any length they want, and publish when they want. We no longer have to wait on a publisher to give us the go ahead or give us guidelines to follow, only accepting this length for this type of story. It’s in our hands now. It’s within our power. And, while it once scared me, I’ve righted that thought process and find it to be awesome now.
Price points … When my novellas were at publishers, they could charge whatever they wanted. Sometimes, they had to charge outrageous amounts in order to make money. They were slightly higher than average, but it worked for them for the most part. When things began to go downhill, they still charged outrageously and paid for it with lower sales. It was too late once they began lowering prices. I can charge for new and re-released titles whatever I want. Whatever I believe is reasonable. I have several things at $0.99 right now and some of those will go up and some will stay at that price. My novellas are worth more than $0.99. I write well. I write raw. I write real. I put real emotion into what I write. Some readers only want free books. I get that. Some only want $0.99 and some won’t pay that because they perceive it as a bad book if it’s priced that low. The market has been glutted to death with $0.99 books for several years now and honestly, while I will buy some at that price or free (usually new to me authors), I pay $2.99-4.99 for an ebook. I want to cry if it’s more than $4.99. But that’s a whole other argument (it doesn’t cost near as much to produce an ebook, no matter who you are). Especially when NY publishers charge $8.99 and up for fiction. But for these books, I often go to the bookstore and buy the print or hop over to an online shop and order the print. Which is part of the game … But like I said, that’s an argument for another time. I want to keep my price points affordable to those who read my book, but I also want to make money at my job, the same as readers like you make money at your jobs and unless a writer has rabid readers, for most, $0.99 isn’t the money maker. It’s the $0.99 money loser.
So, those are some of the reasons I write novellas over full length novels. It may change. But I’ll continue telling the story from the characters as they want and need me to tell them. They often have a specific point in their lives, a certain thing that changed for them that they want told. They may not want the whole drama spilled on the page and novellas work for them. And yes, I talk about my characters as though they’re living and breathing like you and me because in my head, they are.
I welcome questions and comments, but for now, I’m going to sign off …